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Growing Host Family Connections

A mirror selfie of Amaya with her host sister in a cafe

By Amaya Reyes-Colhour, YES Abroad 2023-2024 Jordan

When staying with a whole new family that you have never met, it is pretty easy to feel like an outsider looking in. When I first arrived in Amman, I was so excited to meet my host family and get to know them, but my shyness took over. I stayed in my room for the first week, not wanting to cause a disturbance in the household. I was the guest; I should be as quiet as a mouse. My host sister would invite me out with her friends for coffee but I always felt like she was only doing it because she felt bad so I would decline.

Eventually, I realized I was just being silly. My family volunteered to have me; they obviously wouldn’t do that if I wasn’t wanted. I started to bond with each member of my host family in unique ways. I started going out with my host sister multiple times during the week and it was an amazing way to explore the city and get to know her.

We’d go to a different coffee place each time and it was so much fun. Cafes are a very popular hangout place here in Amman so not only was I bonding with my host sister, but I was also being immersed in the culture. I got to meet her friends and see what life was like for young adults in Jordan. We’d often spend hours all studying or they study while I just hang out. One particular night was my favorite. We went to a cafe and a thunderstorm sounded while we were there. It was very serene, drinking coffee and hearing the rain outside and an occasional flash of light. Whenever an especially loud round of thunder occurred, me and my host sister would just look at each other with wide eyes and then laugh. One of my favorite cafes in Amman is BLK. It has great coffee for a great price! My host mom would also invite me with her to her friend's house and drink tea. It was such a great way to spend time with her and get to know her more. Between us there is a bit of a language barrier, but I love the moments when we’re able to communicate and I am able to speak to her in the little Arabic I know. With my host brother, we often spend an hour after dinner just talking and it’s been a great way to get to know each other and learn about each other's lives. We often show each other funny videos we saw online and talk about our love for cats. My host dad is very funny in a discreet way and sometimes we’ll just look at each other with funny faces and then start laughing. My relationship with each of them is special and has formed in unique ways.

My host family has been amazing and in the three months I’ve been here, I am already sad at the prospect of going home and not seeing them for who knows how long. Little moments like late night drives for coffee, meeting friends, conversations, and shared laughs have been the backbone of forming a relationship with my family and I couldn’t be happier.